Ambitious plans for historic garden

The garden in St Andrews.
The garden in St Andrews.

A historic corner of St Andrews could soon be transformed into a public garden celebrating its royal connections.

The Scottish Government has approved an application from recently-formed group Poets’ Neuk, to take advantage of Community Right to Buy legislation regarding the garden on the corner of Greyfriars Garden and St Mary’s Place.

The group plans to turn the unused land into a public garden which will celebrate the history of the site and its connection to Mary, Queen of Scots.

As part of the plans for the site, the group hope to put up a statue of her in the garden.

The garden would feature poetry by and about the famous figure, who it is thought granted the site to the town on the eve of her abdication.

The site had previously housed the Greyfriars Monastary.

Graham Wynd, chair of the group, welcomed the government’s decision, saying: “Putting this prominent site to beneficial use will be of enormous value to townspeople and visitors alike, who treasure the town’s historic environment.”

David Middleton, the group’s secretary, explained that the group were waiting for formal confirmation that the purchase of the land had been completed, but that planning permission for the garden design had already been approved.

“The point is to bring it back as a public asset,” he said.

“It’s a place to sit and I think it would be a great visitor attraction, because there are not that many publically available statues of Mary, Queen of Scots.

“What we are proposing to do can not be done anywhere else, because nowhere else has that history.

“It’s making beneficial use of this piece of land.”

Bill Borthwick, from the St Andrews Preservation Trust, added: “Transforming this space into a new poetry garden will provide the town with a wonderful public amenity and educational facility.

“It will involve a great deal of work, both now and in the future. We don’t underestimate the challenges but I am confident that the Trust will wish to lend its full support to bring the project to fruition.”